Good Mum Style: Portia Freeman

Portia Freeman

Portia Freeman

Not many people have on paper the sort of uber-hip life to envy quite like model mum Portia Freeman. Ladyfriend of Kooks Bassist Pete Denton, and Mum to 4 year old Dylan, this London-based, twenty-something hot mama also has a wardrobe and look to die for!

Her style is chic yet highly wearable, and her day-to-night look of skinny jeans, blouses and beautiful flats is my kinda thing. She’s one of the few people I’ve come across that can get away with such bleached hair against porcelain skin- most of us would look washed out but I guess there is a good reason why some people are models, and most of us, erm, well, aren’t! I must step away from the bleach every time I get a severe case of hair envy!

Whether it’s a good line in Charlotte Olympia flats (natch, she models for her), a wardrobe that’s a brilliantly effortless mix of feminine and tomboy, or THAT fabulous peroxide hair, Portia is definitely one cool Mother.

The one where I realise I’ve become a massive ‘schools’ bore

So, it finally happened. There I was, sitting in Starbucks having coffee with my neighbour, who has children of a similar age to myself, when the conversation inevitably turned to schools (we are in the process of visiting some on behalf of Freddie, who starts next September). Two tables down, a couple of acquaintances I know from a playgroup joined in, and the chat continued to be peppered with words such as “catchment” and “Ofsted”, and discussion of the merits/non merits of certain educational establishments in our area. Crazy talk about people renting a house for 6 months near a decent school’s catchment area (I thought this was the stuff of urban myth). After about 15 minutes of this conversation, it dawned on me that I have become the person I previously would have run away from, screaming, or beat round the head with a copy of ‘The Good Schools Guide’, vowing never to become such a total ‘mum bore’ when I had kids. Wrong!

It’s that time of year again, where even the sanest of parents go totally cray-cray, agonising over which school to put down on the application form that could make or break their child’s educational future. Even when it doesn’t really matter that much anyway, when all the schools are pretty good, and even when the borough is oversubscribed, and you probably won’t have much of a say in the matter, you can see it. You can see the twitching and anxiety of ‘preschooler mum’, as soon as the subject is mentioned. Okay, so many parents have valid concerns, or are trying to avoid a poo school- after all, we want the best for our kids, right? What’s ridiculous is when even though, like us, all the schools in the area are pretty great, you realise you’ve still turned into a dick, agonising about  the most trivial details when deciding which one will be numero uno on your list.  Questions like: “Will a smaller 2 form entry school suit Freddie better, or the larger 3 form one?” (fair enough, a valid question). “Which school uniform do I like best?” (not so valid), or “Ooh, should we go for the one that does ‘Forest School’?” (what is that? We have no forests around here…).

Where we used to live in London when Freddie was a baby, our two nearest schools were a large, crappy, special-measures delight, and an Oustanding Catholic primary, where you could almost see the light bouncing off the children’s halos as they skipped into school each day. Heck, I was very close to finding God to ensure a place in the latter school, when I read the admissions criteria and realised we were several points down God’s educational pecking order, by 1: not actually being Catholic, quite a biggie and 2: we were unmarried parents, a definite no-no. Thankfully we moved house so didn’t actually have to seriously consider either option, but even back then I was considering doing all sorts of things to ensure F got into a decent one.

Like the loser I am, I actually had a sleepless night and vivid dreams last Thursday, all about bloody schools. Do we choose the nearest school to us that we really like and can walk to, or the one that we LOVE but is a bit further away and might not get in to anyway? I know they all make friends even if they start knowing no one, but would F be better going to the school that most of his little preschool friends will be going to (he’s quite a sensitive chap) even though it’s the further away one? Do we put 6 choices down and risk getting the bottom one that we really don’t want? Or just put 3 down, and run the risk of getting none of these and being sent to a school the other side of the borough that no one wants to go to, and whose playground activity depicts a war zone. I realised I was starting to lose the plot slightly, when I messaged my best friend (who happens to live quite near me and is also in the midst of the schools selection process), and asked her to rank in order of preference all the schools she had been to see. HELLO! CRAZY LADY IN THE BUILDING!

To  be honest, I don’t know why I’m fretting anyway. I’ve always held the belief that as long as you are loving and the sort of involved parent who reads to your children and stuff, they will do just fine wherever they are. Thankfully, we only have about 6 more weeks of this misplaced middle class parental hysteria to endure, when application deadlines are hit, and it’s taken out of our hands and into the lap of the council gods (no amount of money would make me want that job, such a ballache to work out who will go where, I’ve always wondered how they do it).

Parents can then calm down sufficiently, safe in the knowledge that there is nothing more than can be done…until next April, where the wait for that email to come through will inevitably send blood pressure in the ‘burbs rising once more…

Are you choosing a school right now? Or have you been through this process before?

Linking up with Let’s Talk Mommy and Share With Me

Making memories AKA mangling mince pies!

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Okay, so I know this is another Christmas-related post in November, but please bare with me! When I was growing up, one of the traditions I can remember in the run-up to Christmas, along with making the Christmas cake, was to make mince pies with my Mum, and bung them in the freezer, so by the time December came, we had a nice little stockpile.

I tried making some with Freddie and Sasha earlier this week, and it was fab this year, as both could actively help out. When I say ‘help out’, I mean squish, lick and generally mangle the pastry into some sort of mince pie, despite me telling them not to lick said mince pies! I have labelled this batch ‘immediate family only’, as I don’t reckon many people would be too keen to be served these up at our boxing day party if they knew the process of how they came about! They were definitely made with love though, and I really hope that this is a tradition that we can continue with F & S, just like I did as a small child. It’s so lovely to pass something on, and you definitely get the joy second time round as a parent.

Do you have any traditions that you want to pass on to your little ones?

Hooking up with Katie and her Ordinary Moments!

Freddie’s Christmas Wishlist

F prezzies 1PicMonkey Collage 2PicMonkey Collage 3


Apologies in advance, but I’m afraid I’ve become one of those irritating people who start buying Christmas presents in August. It’s not that I’m obsessing over the festive season so soon (as much as I love it, I try not to peak too early), but because over the last few years I’ve realised that this is the best way to spread the cost of Crimbo. There is nothing worse than getting to the end of November, then trying to find the money for presents. Okay, so I know you don’t have to spend a lot, but we like to treat ours at this time of year since we don’t tend to buy them many toys the rest of the year (birthdays excepted), and we have several nieces and god-children we also like to spoil. We always have a big toy clear out before Christmas and birthdays, with the general rule being ‘1 in, 1 out’! I either Ebay toys, or give them to friends or good causes.

I love buying things for both of them, but I think it’s important to teach them how lucky they are compared to many children, hence the donating old toys. Now F in particular is a bit older, this is something he can start getting involved in.

I’d started compiling a little list for both Freddie and Sasha a while ago, and the above are a some of things I have in mind for F, or have bought for him already. I am not buying him too much in case he suddenly might request something from Father Christmas at the last minute (he has only asked for one thing so far, some heinous flashing light trainers!). I try and think of things that will last him throughout the year, as since he has a February birthday, he tends to get a lot of things in one go. He has oodles of cars and trains, and whilst he may have a couple of these in his stocking, we’ve been trying to think outside the box a little, and go for items we think he will love but might not automatically think of.

1 | Mini guitar

2 | Honeybake Baker’s Set

3 | Fisher Price KiddiZoom Camera

4 | Pintoy Wooden Drum

5 | Marble Run

6 | Fishing Game

7 | Pop Up Pirate Game

8 | Learning Resources Design & Drill

9 | Scooter Bell

10 | Bosch Work Bench


What are you getting your little ones for Christmas?!

Create! How to make a Christmas Rag-rug Wreath

Finished Rag Rug Wreath

Good morning! I feel this is safe post to put out there now we are steadily creeping towards Christmas (don’t pretend you don’t love it) :-) Last week I mentioned that I spent a glorious Sunday morning at the ‘Tea and Crafting’ studio in Camden, alongside the lovely Elsie from ‘Ragged Life’, who gave me an introduction to ‘rag rugging’, and got me started on a lovely Christmas wreath that I am in the process of making. Well, Elsie has been very kind, and has agreed to show how you actually go about making one of these bad boys. They would look amazing on your front door this Christmas!

Before you begin, please check out Elsie’s equipment check list, so you know you’ve got what you need:

Step 1: Draw a ring on the hessian: 

Take a piece of hessian and, using a thick clearly visible pen, draw a ring the size and shape of the wreath you would like to create. For a large wreath Elsie recommends an outside ring diameter of 33cm and an inside ring diameter of 19cm, and for a small wreath we like to use a 28cm outside ring diameter and 16cm inside diameter. However you can make the wreath as big or as small as you’d like!

Drawing on hessian

Step 2: Hem the hessian:

Using a sewing machine or overlocker, hem the hessian about 3cm from the outside circle of the wreath and approximately 3cm within the inside circle of the wreath. Then cut around the outside of the hem to remove the excess hessian (being careful not to cut any stitches).

Hem rag rug wreath

When hemming hessian, you will need to use a stitch that holds both the horizontal and vertical strands or your base will unravel (and nobody wants that!):

Hessian Hem Stitch

Step 3: Decide on a design:

This is the nice part – choosing what design you fancy for your wreath. If you’re looking to make a traditional style wreath then Elsie recommends drawing five circles in the middle of the ring, equidistant from each other. These will become five stunning flowers:

Choose a design

Step 4: It’s Time to Rag Rug! 

At this stage you may want to remind yourself how to do shaggy rag rug as there’ll be a fair bit to do. You can see Elsie’s easy to follow video here:

And now it’s time to get started! If you’re doing a traditional style christmas wreath then she finds the best way to get started is to begin in the centre of the “flowers” and work your way out. Here Elsie’s used gold toffee wrappers as the centre of her “flowers”:

Starting a rag rug wreath

Keep rag rugging between the blue lines and this is what the front will look like:

Work in progress rag rug wreath

And the back…

Back Rag Rug Wreath

Step 5: Create a Base for your Wreath:

Find a piece of sturdy cardboard or foam board and cut out a ring the same size as your initial wreath ring:

Rag Rug Wreath Base

Step 6: Attach your wreath to the backing: 

Position your wreath with the underneath facing upwards. Align your cardboard / foam ring with the rag rugged part of the wreath.

Rag Rug Wreath Construction

Next, fold the hessian border back over the cardboard ring and staple gun down to secure. You will have to concertina it slightly.

Staple Gun Wreath

Continue around the outside of the ring until it looks like below:

Back of Christmas Wreath

Step 7: Secure the inside of the wreath: 

Once the outside of the wreath is firmly connected to the backing board then cut a circle inside the inner hemming of the ring so it looks like below:

Assembling Rag Rug Wreath

Next make slight cuts in the hessian, making sure not to cut too close to the rag rugged part.

Cutting Hessian

And now use the staple gun to secure the inside hem to the cardboard base.

Stapling hessian

Eventually the back will look like this:

Back of Rag Rug Wreath

And hooray, the front will look this!

Rag Rug Wreath Front

Step 8: Add a Loop for Easy Hanging: 

A minor point but it’s really handy to add a loop to your wreath to make it easier to hang. Elsie does this by plaiting hessian strands and stapling the plait in a loop shape to the back of the wreath like below. You can use twine, ribbon or something more decorative as well!

Rag Rug Wreath Loop

Step 9: Tidy Up the Back of the Wreath (optional)

If you’re planning to give the wreath as a present or you just like things to be neat then at this stage it may be a good idea to tidy up the back of your wreath. To do this Elsie cuts a ring of felt to the size of the wreath (you can do this by drawing around it) and glue the felt to the back of the wreath with a glue gun. Below is what this looks like:

Rag Rug Wreath Neat

And to end, here’s what your final wreath should look like – Ta-da!

Finished Rag Rug Wreath

I am praying that mine will end up looking as good as Elsie’s when I’ve finished- I’m sure I’ll bore the tits off you posting updates on Instagram et al though, so you’ll be able to see for yourselves! ;-)

Hopefully some of you will be inspired to give this ace craft a go, it really is so relaxing, and very sociable if you get a little rag-rugging crew of you together!

If you want to know more about rag-rugging, check out the fab Ragged Life website

Linking up with Let’s Talk Mommy and Share With Me!